2021 Soin Award winner sees Dayton area as next ‘Silicon Valley’

The winner of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Soin Award for Innovation has big plans for the award’s $25,000 prize money.

And those plans are focused squarely on Dayton.

Dayton insurance-technology firm ConsumerOptix will use the $25,000 prize to add marketing and tech expertise to support the work the company is doing locally.

Right now, the company and its partners are spread globally, working in Dayton, Iowa and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Asked about plans to bring new staff to the company’s Dayton Arcade headquarters office, James O’Hara, ConsumerOptix chairman, chief executive and co-founder, said: “That’s in the cards right now.”

“That’s the only thing we’re doing with these funds — hiring top tech and top marketing talent here in Dayton to help us achieve our objectives,” he said. “We can’t become the Amazon of life insurance as a five-person company. We’re going to have to double and triple in size.”

Consumer Optix is a principal player in what O’Hara calls the “instant coverage life insurance model.” Life insurance companies increasingly are leaning toward underwriting younger, healthy people for $1 million to $2 million policies in as little as 15 minutes.

The key to that speed is insightful data and algorithms, said O’Hara, son of LexisNexis pioneer Robert O’Hara.

The Dayton company is a graduate of the Entrepreneurs Center in Dayton. It offers online solutions to provide insurance carriers, brokers and agents to quickly educate and enroll consumers and employees in their insurance products.

The company states that it can take several weeks for healthy, young people to secure life insurance products they need. With their products, ConsumerOptix speeds and personalizes that process with its “Accelerate” platform, allowing consumers to buy “the right amount of life insurance with a mouse click in 10 to 12 minutes,” in the words of Brian Kipp, O’Hara’s partner.

“We want to be the first multi-carrier enabler of instant coverage,” O’Hara told the Dayton Daily News. The business is already well down that path in making the right coverage available “immediately,” he added.

This may be a case of the right product at the right time. In 2020, with the pandemic changing nearly all industries, the life insurance industry saw the highest growth in policy applications in more than two decades.

Many of those applications were from the very people Accelerate is meant to serve.

“That was fueled by people who are under age 45,” O’Hara said. “These Millennials, these Gen X-ers, really kind of expect and demand instant, online purchasing.”

O’Hara marvels at the growth of technology-focused start-ups anchored in Dayton. He’s says he believes the area may be the “next Silicon Valley.”

“We’re surrounded by tech companies,” he said of ConsumerOptix’ home in The Hub at the Arcade. “I’m meeting people every day, I didn’t know their companies existed. And I think we’re seeing a growth, compared to 10 years ago, 15 years ago, in Dayton where you have a lot more tech start-ups.”

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